Ted Turner is a worried man. His media career is gone with the wind. His faith in the United Nations looks naive. He thinks humanity's on the verge of extinction, and he's down to his last billion

Sellers, Patricia
May 2003
Fortune International (Europe);5/26/2003, Vol. 147 Issue 10, p54
Even when he is down, out, tired, miserable, wounded, worried, and wiped out--all words that spill from Ted Turner when he's asked how he's doing these days--he is, as ever, in motion. Turner has just cashed out more than half of his holdings in America's largest media company, AOL Time Warner, for $790 million and is quitting--"in disgust," he says--his job as vice chairman. On May 5, when Turner called Glover for their regular 7 A.M. conference, they agreed that with AOL shares up 40% from their low last summer and with Turner due to resign the following week, the time might be right. With his 1.9 million acres, his 45 million remaining shares in AOL, and his new hoard of cash, Turner's net worth exceeds $2 billion. But this figure belies his poverty, he says. Remember when he pledged $1 billion to the United Nations? That was in 1997--when the world was, as he marveled at the time, "awash in money" and when his Time Warner holdings had appreciated by that amount in just nine months. He still owes more than $600 million to his UN Foundation. So he is, by his count, down to his last billion. Former President Jimmy Carter, a man of faith and a friend of Turner's, believes that Turner needs to think more creatively about his philanthropy. Turner's Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), founded in January 2001 with AOL Time Warner stock then worth $250 million, has seen its funds melt along with the share price. The purpose of this organization is to reduce the dangers of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and it has done impressive work.


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